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2014 Blackboard Awards

by Allison Schlanger

Last Monday we had the honor of attending the 2014 Blackboard Awards. The awards honor educators (teachers and guidance counselors - preschool through high school), celebrating excellence in education. We went to cheer on Lisa Schalk. Lisa was Sam and Ari’s preschool teacher 6 years ago and is Dov’s teacher this year.

Sam, Ari, Lisa and Suzanne

Dov and Lisa
From the moment we met Lisa we knew our boys were going to have a very special year. We watched as Lisa helped to develop our boys’ self-confidence in a classroom setting and pushed their creative thinking in incredible ways. Lisa is in awe of children and what they can contribute to their own learning. She listens to her students. She asks them what is on their minds and then creates her class curriculums based on what they dream up. My older sons told Lisa, and their class, about a visit we took to a cave. The other children had a lot of questions about the cave. Was it dark? Were there treasures inside? Did you need a flashlight? Who lives in there? The next day, Lisa’s class was off and building their own cave to come up with the answers to their questions. This year, in Dov’s class, they spent a month exploring spiders and creating webs based on the childrens’ fascination with the book “Be Nice to Spiders”. Lisa’s way of letting her students lead and creating the learning environment to fit them is one of the most special and impactful classroom experiences I have ever witnessed.

There are so many teachers to honor – but a finite amount of awards (that’s why there is always next year…).

Like these 2 other amazing ladies…

Suzanne is the one with blond hair in the picture with Lisa, Sam and Ari. She is sarcastic, hilarious and warm. She uses her humor and straightforward personality to reach each child and let them know she will protect them. Sara is the one with the brown hair in this picture with Dov.

Sarah and Dov
She is eternally calm and has such positive energy. Sarah’s comfort with kids brings an air of zen to the classroom.

What I realized the night of the Blackboard Awards is that our family has been so fortunate to have had the most incredible teachers for all three of our children. So although I find the idea of awards a bit tricky -- who to honor when so many are deserving…I am very thankful to the Blackboard Awards for honoring educators.

It may sound cliché to say, that outside of family, there is no more important role in the lives of our children. These adults, who start out as strangers, spend anywhere from 3 – 8 hours a day with our kids. They teach them shapes, colors, taking turns, that you need to sit when eating, throw out your own garbage and how to treat your friends…and later on math, social studies, phys ed, science and art. They teach our kids right from wrong, ethics and compassion. They teach rules to live by, hold our kids accountable, inspire them to ask questions and encourage them to have answers (right or wrong). Great teachers get to know each child so that they can meet them where they are day to day. I have learned so much from Sam, Ari and Dov's teachers over the years. But what I have really learned is how special the people are that wake up every morning with the distinct goal of lighting up a child’s brain.

Rock stars have their Hall of Fame, actors have their Oscars…and teachers have their Blackboard Awards!

Congratulations to Lisa Schalk and the other 2014 Blackboard Award honorees.

We can't wait for next year when we are cheering on the other amazing teachers in our kids’ lives.If you want to nominate your school or your principal for the next round of awards click here

If you want to nominate your school or your principal for the next round of awards click here: Blackboardawards.com.

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